Today was one of those days of nine-hour meetings and dentist appointments, a day that leaves you questioning your ability to survive. And I might not have, until I pulled into the Cranbrook Shopping Center in the off chance I could find something for lunch. This little shopping center is on Cranbrook a mile or so off York, a kind of neighborhood mall, anchored by a health club on one end and god knows what on the other. I vaguely remembered seeing something that might have been a Mexican place after my last dentist visit and given my day I was willing to take the chance.
It turned out my memory was good, but wrong. Tucked into the middle of the strip was a little restaurant named Maria de Los Angeles (although the take out menu had a different name). Not Mexican, but Salvadorian. It's a clean little place with a half-dozen small tables, a counter/cold case with drinks and deserts, taped up pictures of the menu, and whiteboard with specials. The menu had a pretty extensive listing of choices -- pupusas with various fillings, tamales, soups, tortas, yuca, and a variety of meat and fish dishes. Since I wanted to try a couple of things I ordered a cheese pupusa and a baleada, a tortilla served with avocado, crema, and egg. Although I was the only one there, it took time to come from the kitchen, but when it came out everything was fresh and hot. The pupusa was griddle-charred, moist and chewy with fresh masa and white cheese. The baleada was a thick tortilla, freshly made and folded around big chunks of avocado and eggs slathered with crema. It easily filled a small plate, bigger than the standard empananda (more like a pasty in dimensions). Along with everything came a small side of curtido, vinegary cabbage slaw with a mildly spicy sauce. The whole meal came to just over $7 and was perfect for lunch.
I definitely plan on going back, if only to try the chilate con nuegado that was listed as a special. Plus the fried yuca and plantains, and the tamale de elote, and the tortas, and a whole lot more.